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Classical Notes

A Night Out, Guerrilla-Style

Posted at 5:04 PM on November 22, 2006 by Valerie Kahler
Filed under: The blog

I'm neither a skilled enough cook nor an adventurous enough diner to think of myself as a card-carrying "foodie," but I follow along at a distance and admire the fearless soufflé-makers and sweetbread-eaters as they go places I'll likely never see.

It was with an outsider's curiosity (and a little pang of jealousy) then, that I read about a newish trend in dining out - guerrilla restaurants. The hottest chefs (whose name-brand restaurants have 3-month waiting lists for reservations) set up their kitchens in temporary spaces, offer set-price (cheap!) chef's menus and the chance to sample some new culinary experiments before they hit the menu at French Laundry or Chez Panisse. The catch? It's advertised only word by word of mouth. Friend-of-a-friend stuff. People I will never, ever meet. *sigh*

Earlier this month, I read about classical music's contribution to the guerrilla trend. This story in Musical America says the trend is reminiscent of the art scene in the 60s and 70s, with performance art "happenings" in abandoned warehouses and old lofts and the like.

Spurred on by a growing number of offbeat performance venues and enterprising young classical musicians, New York is experiencing a boom in small, largely below-the-radar concert series. There are opera nights at a Lower East Side dive bar, chamber music concerts at a boxing gym beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, contemporary music at a cabaret in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and avant-garde fare in a silo on the banks of an industrial canal.

Zach Layton is an Oberlin grad who organizes new-music nights in Brooklyn, says hipsters (and others) in their 20s and 30s are curious about classical music but aren't keen on dropping a hundred bucks for a ticket.

“There are people who feel alienated by the extreme expense of the tickets that are sold uptown,” he says. “Presenting classical music in a non-traditional space like a bar opens up opportunities for people to hear music that they might not otherwise get a chance to hear. It’s also a psychological thing, because it just puts music in a more laid back space.”

It's an excellent story, interesting and challenging. Just one answer to The Great Classical Music Question - where to find the next generations of listeners?